Are "Non-Toxic" Art Supplies Truly Toxin-Free? Kate's Story

Are "Non-Toxic" Art Supplies Truly Toxin-Free? Kate's Story

Our two-part blog series, Toxin-Free Tuesday, covers the parallel stories of our social platform manager Kate and our founder Leah, whose disappointing experiences with conventional paint companies inspired their work with Natural Earth Paint. This week, we hear from Kate!

Kate's Story

"When I became a part of the Natural Earth Paint family, I didn't consider myself the sort of artist who needed to be careful about the art supplies they used; I wasn't a chemical-sensitive painter looking for a safe way to create again. But this year, I found out I had six different severe contact allergies, and my doctor told me that I had to re-assess everything that touched my skin on a daily basis—and I mean EVERYTHING. While going through my makeup, soaps, nail polishes, and more that have published ingredient lists online, I realized I hadn't checked my art supplies—mainly the paints I used during my university days and the materials I create with while refinishing furniture. 

So, I contacted the company that makes the conventional gouache I had lying around from my "Design I" university course, assuming they'd be able to provide the information I needed. I received this response:

“Thank you for reaching out to us. Although we are unable to provide the EN-71 or Material Safety Data Sheet for the requested item, rest assured all of our products are tested to ensure their safety. This product is AP-certified non-toxic and conforms to ASTM D-4236 standards. If there is anything else we can help you with, please feel free to reach out to us. Have a great day!”

Which means:

"We're hiding our ingredients and their safety information from our customers, but just trust us on this one. It's fine."

Ugh. If these paints were really non-toxic, what would this company have to hide? These potentially toxic gouache paints were some of the first of my products to be retired. 

A Side Note: For the curious artist who's unfamiliar with the technical-speak in that response, ASTM D-4236 standards just require that hazardous materials in the product are appropriately labeled (source), and The AP (Approved Product) Seal means the product has been evaluated by toxicologists and doesn't contain sufficient quantities of hazardous materials to cause toxicity, acute health problems, or chronic health problems (source). But these toxins can have long-term effects, even in small quantities. And for artists who don't want any of these dangerous materials in their products, or can't be exposed to even a bit of them (like me)? This verification certainly isn't enough. Who wants just a little formaldehyde or just a few heavy metals in their products? Yuck. 

If you're wondering how Natural Earth Paint stacks up in comparison, our products meet ASTM D-4236 standards and have The AP Seal too, but in contrast, they're also guaranteed toxin-free. That means they specifically have no fillers, additives, synthetic preservatives, petroleum-based pigments, or heavy metals added. Not even a trace.

I've been working for Natural Earth Paint for a little over a year now, and I'm happy to report that each time I learn something new about our products, it's something heartening rather than disappointing. When we say non-toxic, we really mean toxin-free, which is a lot more than other companies can claim! And when I cross-checked our ingredients with the ones I'm allergic to, the process was simple—check out the openly published ingredients, read the short list of natural materials included, and breathe a sigh of relief. No allergens involved.

And even for our products that we can't share the ingredients for yet (since some of our newest formulas are one-of-a-kind on the market), we can still guarantee what's not in them for our customers and provide safety information rather than brushing artists off as if their concerns for their health, their creative practice, and the planet don't matter. In reality, those concerns are what's most important to us at NEP, and they serve as the foundation for everything we do. I'm sure our founder, Leah, can tell you more about that next week!"

Interested in more Earth artists who use Natural Earth Paint? Visit our Eco Artists page!
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